Thursday, October 14, 1999

Tuesday, September 28, 1999

Russia, Vladivostok

Monument to the Fighters for Soviet Power in the Far East

Monument to the Fighters for Soviet Power in the Far East

Monday, September 27, 1999

Russia, Siberia

I saw the end of a raduga [rainbow] today, in a clearing in the autumn forest in Siberia, from the train.

Wednesday, September 22, 1999

Russia, Naushki

In Naushki right now, on the train, in Russia on the Mongolian border.

I kissed her on the cheek. She kissed me back, on the cheek, and then wiped her lipstick from my cheek with her palm.

Friday, September 10, 1999

Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar

I am teaching English. A whole generation of Mongolians is learning how to form contractions from five words at a time.

Saturday, August 14, 1999

Tuesday, August 3, 1999

Russia, Siberia

We have nothing better to do with our lives than ride across Siberia on a train.

Tuesday, July 13, 1999

Israel, Tel Aviv

Was in a park in Tel Aviv a few days ago. A little old guy hobbled over and sat next to me on the bench. He was talking to me in Hebrew. I responded in English. He said, “I don’t speak English, you don’t speak Hebrew,” and raised his hands in exasperation. We sat in silence a while. Then I asked if he spoke Russian.

He said, “You speak Russian?! I asked you if you spoke Russian!”

I said I hadn’t heard him. So then he began to talk. He told me he was from Poland. He had worked in a Russian store a while and learned Russian. Then he had worked in a factory in Germany, and he showed me the five-digit number tattooed on his left forearm. Immediately after that he came to Israel and served in the Israeli army. He had been in Israel 50 years now. He had sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters. He asked me how long I was going to be in Israel. Leaving in a few days, I said.

“To where?”


“Why do you want to go there?” he said. “Why not stay in Israel?”

“I don’t speak Hebrew,” I said with a smile.

“So? Stay here and you’ll learn it. I didn’t speak Hebrew when I arrived, and I learned it.”

“I could,” I said, and nodded.

We sat in silence a while again. Then he got up and hobbled off.